Some musings on seasonal reading
I'm a part of a few different book groups (that's my fancy way of saying I follow a lot of different Bookstagram accounts) and they all seem to be these things called 'mood readers', and they base their reading tastes on seasons. Now, this is not something that has ever appealed to me as a reader - I make monthly TBRs (as you know from religiously skimming my pre-reviews for you, dear reader) and then within that grouping of books I pick up what speaks to me in the moment. I do have some books that I tend to save for specific times of the year - I like big, hefty books for when I'm on vacation; or nonfiction books on subjects I'm discovering on weekends or during lighter periods at work; and the latter half of this year I stayed well away from books about climate change or hefty, depressing books (I see you, Stalingrad and A Little Life. I know you're on my TBR bookcase. I will read you. Just... not during COVID). So, having said all that...
There are definitely patterns to my reading. One of my reading goals for 2021 is to more accurately track my patterns, so I can more easily see what my comfort levels are at a glance and where I can push my reading boundaries a little (with the caveat being that, above all else, reading for me will remain my escapism and my hobby, and so I will NOT be beating myself up if I don't meet some of my self-set challenges). I will probably do this with a spreadsheet, because I love a spreadsheet and my spreadsheets are thorough. Anyway. Some trends that I've been able to eyeball, along the lines of seasonal reading, is that my genre reading tends to fall into seasons - I love an immersive fantasy and/or epic in the summer, a tome in the early months of the new year, and mysteries in the fall and winter.
I think there are probably some easy pop-psychological explanations for this: the early months of the new year is when you're meant to feel the most refreshed and the most ambitious for the year ahead, so that's when I tackle the big, pretentious-looking books on my TBR bookcase in an effort to look far more frightfully clever than I actually am. Summers are forever associated with vacations and long idle days with nothing to fill them but adventures and heroes' journeys. Winter is dark, and cold, and grim, so there's nothing quite like curling up under a blanket with a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat and hooks you so deeply you forget about the fact that you don't even want to go outside.
There are some other seasonal breakdowns I've noticed: some people enjoy witchy, spooky reads around Halloween, whereas I usually wrap them into my summer reading because I consider them to be more fantasy than mystery; others save all of their romances for the spring and summer, and I tend to sprinkle a few romances into every month's TBR as palate cleansers between heavier reads. My romances do break down seasonally, though - holiday-themed romances I read around the holidays, Regency romances I binge through in the summer and early fall, romances that center around renewal and new hope I pack into my spring TBRs. And the perfect time of the year for my 'cozy' mysteries (which, side note, are a subgenre of crime fiction in which all of the sex and crime and violence take place off-page, the detective is usually an amateur sleuth, there's usually a romance element, and the crimes all take place in a socially intimate community; and cozies series usually have regular recurring characters; my go-to recommendation for cozy mysteries is Rhys Bowen's Her Royal Spyness series which I cannot, I repeat cannot, recommend highly enough) is in the week between Christmas and New Year, when you are stuffed so full of food you can barely move and all you really want is to sit on a couch and read, fun easy books that make you laugh and tide you over to the pretentious reads of the new year. Her Royal Spyness is available here. Look at that, a bonus recommendation for you!
My current seasonal reading mood is mysteries and romance, nothing particularly difficult or time-consuming, and books that make me laugh as they're making me think - so nothing that would qualify as 'Eye Opening' on the NPR Book Concierge. It's leading up to the post-Christmas period of picking up a new cozy mystery, Amanda Flower's Magical Bookshop Mystery series, which also has some cute little magic elements as well, and then 2021 will ring in with more serious books, and probably a newly reinvigorated interest in nonfiction that will taper out in the summer when I'm planning a re-read of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and picking up some intro-to-fantasy recommendations a friend passed along. And, as ever, I will keep an eye on romance and mystery new releases to pad out those reading moods in spring and fall.
So that's my nonsensical musing on seasonal reading - and I will probably post a spreadsheet, complete with different tabs and color-coding, around this time next year. Now, I must go back to Good Omens, because right before Christmas is the perfect time to laugh about demons plotting Armageddon.
If anybody wants to convince me of the merits of mood reading, please holla at me - I'll add it to my spreadsheet.